Dopamine and your Gut
Updated: Feb 10
Do you know if your depression/anxiety, low energy or sleepless nights are due to a neurotransmitter dysfunction or a gut dysfunction?
Determining the source of your symptoms can be difficult. But before jumping into taking an SSRI or anxiolytic medication consider how your gut may be contributing.
An overgrowth of certain pathogens and yeast can inhibit an enzyme called Dopamine Beta-Hydroxylase (DBH), which is the enzyme that breaks Dopamine down into Norepinephrine. As with most neurotransmitters and hormones, the Goldilocks rule applies. You need the right amount of Dopamine and Norepinephrine, having too little or too much causes many common symptoms. The science is complicated but that’s what’s shown in the Figure below of the downward arrow showing the Dopamine to Norepinephrine conversion.
When DBH is blocked you have too little norepinephrine, which you need for memory and alertness. You also have too much Dopamine which causes depression, anxiety, restlessness, inability to focus, and sleep disturbances. Copper and Vitamin C are also needed as cofactors, so these nutrients are very important.
To identify what is causing your depression, anxiety, and other symptoms, you have to look deeply at a cellular level. The Organic Acid Test examines your gut pathogens and dopamine to norepinephrine ratios to identify if your gut is the issue. If so, you can start addressing the actual reason your neurotransmitters are not in balance.
SSRI or anxiolytic medications are imperfect solutions with many side-effects and possible addictive elements. While appropriate in some cases it’s always better to identify the real cause of your problems and address those.